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Art June, 6 2008

In a Collective Spirit

Thanks to the New Jersey turnpike, very few people actually have to move through Wilmington, DE on their way from the bustling metropolis of the north to the nations capital, Washington, D.C. This creates a feeling that Delaware is full of nothing. Not so, at one point the city of Wilmington was host to a great cache of mid-90s dead stock sneakers on Market Street. That has since diminished, and in its place (figuratively) the Delaware Center of Contemporary Arts has risen to attract locals and more intrepid travelers. Currently an exhibition featuring the work of Tom Huang is on view. A trained architect, Huang uses a variety of materials to produce sculpture and furniture that reacts to historic and contemporary relations between East and West. The exhibition is titled In a Collective Spirit: Sculpture Works and Furniture.

From the DCCA:

Tom Huang is trained as an architect and furniture designer and attempts to bridge the gap between studio furniture, contemporary fiber arts, and sculpture in his work.  He utilizes his skills to create both individual furniture objects and sculptural installations.  Additionally, he is very interested in the relationship between the East and West, employing traditional and contemporary techniques and materials to express this point of view, stating, “I hope to better understand the global condition of cultural mixing and reconciliation by employing weaving and binding as a metaphor.  I combine both traditional and non-traditional techniques and materials.” Huang presents both furniture and sculpture in this exhibition.  His installation, Coolies, demonstrates his awareness of history and his respect for the labor of Chinese immigrants who built the Central Pacific Railroad that joined the Transcontinental Railway to tie together the growing United States. “Coolies,” originally a non-pejorative term for a laborer who usually carried a bamboo pole, eventually became a negative term under Colonialism. Here Huang creates an exceptionally beautiful installation, utilizing bamboo and many traditional weaving techniques, to pay homage to the countless “coolies” who built the American railway.

Tom Huang (Lawrence, Kansas) holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BA in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis. His work was recently featured in American Craft Magazine. He worked as a designer for Moz Designs, a specialty fabrication company where he created work for many important clients, including Disney Imagineering and Sony Entertainment. Huang is currently represented by the Wexler Gallery in Philadelphia and the Shidoni Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is also an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design at the University of Kansas.
In a Collective Spirit

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